Front Foot: Open or Closed

by Robert
(Hartford, KY)

Barry Bonds' front foot peeling open during swing

Barry Bonds' front foot peeling open during swing

A local training facility has recently drawn my attention to the front foot. I see both open and closed while looking at some footage of the big league hitters.


Which should it be? Open or closed?

Swing Smarter Response:
Hey Robert, great question and one I've changed my mind about since the Winter of 2011. I was always taught, "front foot closed, back foot pivot."

I mean NO disrespect to the legend of a High School Coach that said these words, but both of these cues damage a swing, and let me tell you why...

I first questioned the "front foot closed" part when I watched a Mike Epstein DVD. Epstein described the front foot closed as a hindrance to the hips opening up. I now believe this, and think a 45 degree angle with the front foot as being optimal. I did this automatically without knowing it during my career. My front foot always seemed to peel open during my swing, and I spent so much time fighting for a closed front foot...

I got Smarter, you see...

If we hip thrust correctly (Chas Pippitt told me this), then you'll see the front foot peel during and after impact. Just think of rotational guys like Bonds after their swings.

In other words, if we keep the front foot closed off, then our hips fight getting through. I actually like to turn my toe a little open in my stance before the swing, similar to what Ted Williams used to do. I feel like I can create more hip torque that way.

IMPORTANT: the key is how much inward tension (Swing Smarter Bestest 5 Drills #1) we create between our thighs and how well we execute the Double Knee Inside Load (Chas on Baseball Hitting Rebellion dot com).

The back foot pivot is a debate for another day, and I won't get into it too much here, but...

In a nutshell, "back foot pivot," promotes the ankle turning the knee, which turns the hip...this can't be further from the truth and uses small muscles to turn big muscles...the hip should turn the knee, which should delay the ankle until it has to turn from the torque of the knee.

I hope this helps amigo, and once again thanks for your participation on Swing Smarter! :)

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Mallee: Squish the Bug?
by: Joey from SwingSmarter.com

Vlad Guerrero Swing Breakdown

John Mallee is an example of an ex-MLB coach preaching what we "think" we see using Down & Through. Trust me, I've been there...here are his 6 absolutes:

  • Go back before you go forward (lower half load)

  • Walk away from the hands (stride-separate)

  • Keep head in-between feet (maintain dynamic balance, center, axis)

  • Start swing with lower half, ground up (foot, knee, hips, hands last)

  • Take a straight line to and through the ball ( stay inside)

  • Maintain balance throughout the swing



Does Vlad's swing above, do any of this?

I agree with comments 1, 3, and 6.

Vlad DOES NOT walk away from his hands - he rows his back elbow behind him, and tilts his barrel in the direction of the pitcher to accelerate barrel speed.

He DOES NOT start the swing with his ankle, then knee, then hips - big joints and muscles are rotating smaller joints and muscles. It's the other way around: hips, knee, ankle (no squashing the bug).

And, he DOES NOT stay inside the ball - his hips and core pull the barrel around, he's NOT deliberately taking the knob to the ball. The knob patch is circular with the hips and core pulling the barrel into place.

We have to start changing the way we "look" at hitting analysis.

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Where to keep the hands...
by: Joey from SwingSmarter.com

@Joe: I like to keep the hands comfortably in front of the rear shoulder in the stance, and the bat can do whatever it wants until the Cushion or load part of the swing, then it moves into the 45 degree angle you were talking about.

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hands in the stance
by: Anonymous

Where do you like the hands to start in the stance? Do you like the bat to be flat or at a 45 degree angle.Thanks, Joe

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Pics Speak Volumes
by: Joey from SwingSmarter.com

@Robert: all hitters are different, I believe in a slightly open front foot in the stance, a la Ted Williams, because a strong tendency for kids is to NOT give the hips enough room to thrust through the ball, most times they close themselves off when the stride foot touches down.

Barry Bonds is an anomaly, and he chooses to start with a closed front foot...is this bad? For him, obviously not, but you can see his front foot is fighting to peel open from the hips torquing to get through.

Is teaching to keep the front foot closed wrong? No. I just don't choose to promote it to my kids. When hip thrust is at a premium, I'm going to error on the side of open than closed. I think it's easier to work on keeping their hips loaded until the stride foot lands, than trying to keep their front foot closed.

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But ...... the picture ....
by: Robert

Okay. I see your point with allowing the hips to rotate more. However, in the picture you provided of Barry Bonds, his foot is closed during the swing.

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Back Foot Pivot
by: JK

Check Pro Hitting Coach John Mallee for info on the back foot pivot at www.johnmallee.com

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